Broken Works Best is written by Catherine Campbell, a woman who has “walked the path of the broken-hearted”. The back cover declares “this book is a must-read if you’re suffering or supporting others in their struggles, and an invaluable resource to prepare all of us for challenging times.”
I think this book does what it sets out to do. It’s a beautiful book and I absolutely loved it! To tackle such a sensitive subject, without being overbearing or belittling, is a big ask, but I think Catherine gets it spot on. By her own admission, her theology was “deeply flawed” when her life got suddenly turned upside down and she struggled to make sense of it. But as she delves into the Bible to find the biblical perspective on the issue of suffering, she takes us on the journey with her and answers many common questions, such as: Why do bad things happen? Why me? Does God really care? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?
From the first few pages I was hooked and started mentally making a list of people to recommend this to; before long I concluded that I could recommend this to most people I know, even non-Christians. The Bible teaching is clear and simple. And it’s not patronising; it never tries to imply that a Christian should feel less pain, even while we’re trusting in Jesus.
The bulk of the book is made up of stories. Catherine puts you right in the middle of her own personal suffering, as well as that of other Christians who experienced heart-wrenching tragedies. Every one of them displays supernatural strength, forgiveness and peace; but they had to go through very painful years (sometimes decades) of suffering to get to that point. And seeing God’s work in them to get to that point is so inspiring, and a reassurance that God can work in all of us in the same way. She also uses Bible stories to highlight her points, and I love how she brings them to life in a way that makes them as accessible as every other story in the book.
This book challenged me in many ways. I hope it will challenge you too as you take a closer look at your own life and struggles. Here are some of the ways I felt challenged:
Do I prepare for trials? Through every trial I can look back and see God’s work in me, and that prepares me for future trials. But I don’t deliberately prepare. This book has made me more mindful of that, as it urges us to prepare by having God’s word in our heart, and written down so it can minister to us through good times and bad.
Do I use my story or experience to help others? For most of my adult life I’ve wanted to “do something with my life” and have always fallen short of my own expectation. This book reminds me that God can use all of us, whatever our circumstances. And when He’s worked on us the most, often through hard trials, is usually when He can use us the most.
Do I point people to Jesus enough? While reading this book I felt overwhelming gratitude that Jesus would walk with us in our pain, and give us eternal hope and peace even while we’re broken. But I also felt sadness for all the people who don’t know Him; they don’t know that peace and hope, only brokenness. I felt convicted. Jesus gave us a job to do, to share His gospel, and that means me as much as anyone. One of my favourite sermons is about heaven; the pastor imagines looking back and saying “do you remember death? What was that all about?”. I desperately want all my friends and family to experience this with me.
Do I give God a chance to speak? During times of trouble my feelings often overcome me, and that’s when I’m less likely to go to God. This book reminds me to go to God first, whatever the situation. And not just to go to Him, but to actually give Him a chance to speak into my situation.
Do I go to the cross enough? We only need to look on Jesus’ outstretched arms on the cross to remember how much He loves us. His love is over-whelming, and at the cross is where we see everything clearly and can put everything into perspective. This book frequently points us to the cross.This book will teach you (or reinforce) a lot, but it doesn’t pretend to know everything. We could drive ourselves mad with all our “why?” questions. So I love the simple principle that Catherine uses: “don’t allow what you don’t understand about God to destroy what you already know about Him”. In other words, when hard times come knocking and we don’t get the answers we want, we simply need to remember who God is: our loving, caring, holy, and just Father.
She also reminds us there’s more to life than what we see. That God has a big picture with eternal consequences, and it’s often through our trials that we get closer to Him as we inevitably reach out to Him more. So one of the over-riding messages of this book is that God won’t waste our pain. Pain is part and parcel of this fallen world, that’s a given; but God will walk through every valley with us and is bigger than any situation we face. He can help us prepare for, live with and even flourish in testing seasons.
As you can hopefully tell, I loved everything about this book and highly recommend it. It’s about 200 pages, an easy yet challenging read. There’s no doubt this book got me looking upward instead of inward. I shed a lot of tears reading it; some sad tears, some joyful. Through every story you could almost feel the pain coming off the pages. But ultimately this is a book about victory. Every story overflows with unbelievable grace and peace for Christians who allowed God to help them through unspeakable pain. So alongside the sadness there is joy! God gives hope to all, and they know their pain will once and for all be replaced by God’s ultimate gain – heaven! And that’s exactly where Catherine ends this book, with eyes on our everlasting home where God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).
- Pani Theodorou, Church Member